A careful and wide comparison between Al and Ga as substitutional dopants in the ZnO wurtzite structure is presented. Both cations behave as n-type dopants and their inclusion improves the optical and electrical properties of the ZnO matrix, making it more transparent in the visible range and rising up its electrical conductivity. However, the same dopant/Zn ratio leads to a very different doping efficiency when comparing Al and Ga, being the Ga cation a more effective dopant of the ZnO film. The measured differences between Al- and Ga-doped films are explained with the hypothesis that different quantities of these dopant cations are able to enter substitutionally in the ZnO matrix. Ga cations seem to behave as perfect substitutional dopants, while Al cation might occupy either substitutional or interstitial sites. Moreover, the subsequent charge balance after doping appear to be related with the formation of different intrinsic defects that depends on the dopant cation. The knowledge of the doped-ZnO films microstructure is a crucial step to optimize the deposition of transparent conducting electrodes for solar cells, displays, and other photoelectronic devices.
M. Gabás, A. Landa-Cánovas, J. L. Costa-Krämer, F. Agulló-Rueda, A. R. González-Elipe, P. Díaz-Carrasco, J. Hernández-Moro, I. Lorite, P. Herrero, P. Castillero, A. Barranco, and J. R. Ramos-Barrado, “Differences in n-type doping efficiency between Al- and Ga-ZnO films,” J. Appl. Phys. 113, 163709 (2013). DOI: 10.1063/1.4803063